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Give Your Passwords Some Peace Of Mind With The New 1Password 4

December 13, 2012

It’s finally here! AgileBits’ 1Password 4 ($7.99) is the much anticipated new iteration of the popular password manager for iOS. And let me tell you — it’s wonderful.

I’ve been a strong advocate of 1Password for a while now. It’s one of the most useful utilities on my Mac and iOS devices. I’ve been using more randomly generated strings of letters, numerals, and symbols in my passwords to make it harder for others to find out what they are. But of course, doing this also means that I have to remember what my password is. But rather than have all sorts of pieces of paper around my desk area or unsecured notes on my device with my password information, I like to store them all in 1Password, where they are organized, encrypted, and protected from prying eyes. Plus, with 1-click browser extensions on the desktop, it’s proven invaluable to me over the years, saving so much time for repeated logins.

When I first heard about the new version of 1Password, and saw the screenshots, I knew immediately that I had to have this. It also brings a bundle of new, nifty features. I clicked on “Buy” within seconds of seeing it available in the App Store, and have not regretted my purchase.

On launch, you’ll be asked if you have already used 1Password before. If you have, select the option, and then pick your syncing solution, if you had one. New users can also set up a brand new database easily. Syncing can occur through iCloud, Dropbox, or even the good ol’ iTunes File Sharing. I have personally been using Dropbox with the previous versions, and will continue doing so. I love the way the settings gear spins while sync is occurring in the background — it’s a delightful animation that gives you insight on when the app is syncing, so you know things are working as they should.

With the new iteration of 1Password comes a brand spankin’ new interface, and it’s super attractive. From the brand new lock screen with beautifully crafted textures and gradients to the unlocking animation, to the new icons for categories and sections, everything just looks incredible. While I enjoyed using the previous version, it didn’t have the prettiest looking interface. But now that has all changed with 4.0. Everything about 1Password now oozes with eye candy, and it’s much welcomed.

Another big change that they introduced is the elimination of the 4-digit passcode, so now you only need to have the master password to unlock the app, just as you do on the desktop version. I appreciate this, since it eliminates the need to remember two different ways to gain access to your vault of data. It’s much more uniform and consistent this way, which is a great thing. However, if you still want to use the unlock code, it can be enabled in the app settings.

Along the bottom, you will notice four tabs: Favorites, Categories, Folders, and Settings. The extra little tab at the end of the menubar is a treat. You can pull it to the left or just tap on it, either way, it will reveal the in-app browser. That’s right kids — type in the address you want to navigate to, and if you have a password stored, you can select it from the bottom. The app will automatically insert your login credentials on the form and you will be on your merry way. It’s never been easier. On the iPhone, you get a cards-like interface for multiple pages, while the iPad will give you tabs like a desktop browser.

While you’re in Categories, you can see the total amount of items you have, as well as items per section in your database. You can also add a new category by selecting the + button. At the moment, 1Password supports the following account types: Bank, Credit Card, Database, Driver’s License, Email, Identity, Login, Membership, Outdoor License, Passport, Reward Program, Secure Note, Server, Social Security Number, Software License, and Wireless Router.

When you need to view or add a new item for a particular category, just select it to jump in. Everything is organized alphabetically, and logins display a favicon for the website or webpage if available. If you’re like me, and have too many logins or passwords to count, just make use of that handy search bar at the top of the screen.

To add a new item to whatever category, just tap on the + button and it will bring up a new form, where you can record all of the bits of data that you need to reference later. Passwords can be randomly generated while giving you control over length (from four to 30 characters), whether it’s pronounceable or random, number of digits and symbols used, avoid ambiguity, allow repeats, and automatically copy it to the clipboard.

As for viewing saved logins and other items, selecting them will display your information, except for passwords. All password fields will show up as • symbols. If you tap on it, the iOS popup menu will show up with two options: Copy or Reveal. The option to conceal passwords can be toggled off in Settings, though it will be less secure.

If you copy a password, and are worried about it staying in the device clipboard forever, don’t fret! All copied text from 1Password will remain on the clipboard for only a certain amount of time, which you can set in the settings. It can be from 30, 60, or 90 seconds, to two or five minutes, or never. Additionally, 1Password sports 256-bit AES encryption, so all of your data that is in the app remains safe and secure.

A new feature in 1Password 4 is the ability to favorite items and move them into folders, thanks to the star and folder icons on each item. Favorites are accessed via the tab on the bottom, and will provide quick and easy access to your most important logins or other account info. Folders is a great way to organize items into a system that works for you, so you can organize items by “Shopping” or “Work,” for example.

One of the best new features, though, is Demo Mode. I’ve told you how much I love 1Password, but I’ve never felt comfortable showing the app off to my friends because it would reveal my information. Now, AgileBits has taken care of that with the new Demo Mode, which is hidden in the “Advanced” section in the app’s settings. When this is enabled, just enter “demo” as the master password, and the app will show only demo data while in use. Now you can show off how great 1Password is to friends and family without giving away your information!

The only complaint that I have, at the moment, is the fact that the browser is built more for logging into sites that you already have password information for. If you navigate to a new site and try to make an account with a password, there’s no quick way to do it from within the browser. You’ll have to navigate back to the passwords view, go to the logins, make a new one, and then tap on the button to randomly generate a password using the recipe that you’ve selected. Then you need to have that copied on to the clipboard so you can insert it in a password field in the browser.

It’s just a cumbersome process, and I hope that AgileBits can make it easier and more streamlined in the future. At the moment, it’s just not as consistent an experience as the desktop and browser extensions.

Regardless, 1Password 4 is a fantastic update that any current 1Password user needs. The new features and interface make it well worth the cash, and it’s just one of the most indispensable tools one can have for storing all of their secure passwords safely. And if you haven’t experienced 1Password yet, then there’s no better time than now.

At the moment, version 4 of 1Password is on sale for $7.99 in the App Store for your iPhone and iPad. After this introductory pricing is over, the app will be $17.99.

This version of 1Password also requires iOS 6 to run. If you have not updated to iOS 6 yet, the old versions of 1Password will continue to sync and work, but don’t expect updates, as they have been pulled from the App Store.

Mentioned apps

AgileBits Inc.

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